Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Look to your local library for genealogical resources

Many local libraries throughout the United States provide research services to their patrons. Depending on the size of community and the concomitant economic base of the library district, the services may be anything from a small set of useful online databases to an extensive offering of major genealogical products. One of the concerns I had in moving from a large metropolitan area such as Phoenix, Arizona, the sixth largest city in the United States, to Provo and even Salt Lake City, Utah which is about the 124th largest city was the availability of online resources from the libraries. Even my old home town of Mesa is the 38th largest city, ranking ahead of cities such as Atlanta, Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana. Enough of that, the Internet gives patrons the ability to "belong to" a library for research purposes, even though the actual physical library may be in the next county or even the next state.

I find a few of the same online research sources available to me in the local libraries here in Utah.

Why do I suggest exploring these local and sometimes county and state resources? Mainly because you pay for them with your taxes and might as well enjoy them. For many genealogists, one of the most valuable of these resources is ProQuest's Heritage Quest online. Here is a description of the contents:
The collection consists of six core data sets:
  • U.S. Federal Censuses feature the original images of every extant federal census in the United States, from 1790 through 1930, with name indexes for many decades. In total, the collection covers more than 140 million names.
  • Genealogy and local history books deliver more than 7 million digitized page images from over 28,000 family histories, local histories, and other books. Titles have been digitized from our own renowned microform collections, as well from the American Antiquarian Society via an exclusive partnership.
  • Periodical Source Index (PERSI), published by the Allen County Public Library, is recognized as the most comprehensive index of genealogy and local history periodicals. It contains more than 2.3 million records covering titles published around the world since 1800.
  • Revolutionary War records contains original images of selected Veteran Administration records pension and bounty land warrant application files help to identify more than 80,000 American Army, Navy, and Marine officers and enlisted men from the Revolutionary War era.
  • Freedman’s Bank Records, with more than 480,000 names of bank applicants, their dependents, and heirs from 1865–1874, offers valuable data that can provide important clues to tracing African American ancestors prior to and immediately after the Civil War.
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set records the memorials, petitions, private relief actions made to the U.S. Congress back to 1789, with a total of more than 480,000 pages of information.
If you local library does not have a subscription to ProQuest, then try your county library or even your state library. If none of them have the service try asking the local librarians why they do not subscribe. If the answer comes out as a budget concern, then try investigating the use of the current offerings and getting your local family history society to lobby the city, county or state for access. also offers libraries access to's Library Edition and also has an extensive library of digitized genealogy resource books.  While you are at it, try promoting the ProQuest® Sanborn Maps Geo Edition (1867-1970), searchable by address and GPS coordinates, provides digital access to thousands of large-scale maps of U.S. towns, cities, and states.

If you find your library already provides access to these types of resources, then by all means, make sure every genealogist around you realizes that they can get access through their library.

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